#JapanAuthentic: 7 Top Things To Do in Iiyama, Japan
09 August 2017
Situated in the far north of Nagano Prefecture in Japan is the city of Iiyama. A city with elegant streets lined with temples, deep forest and highlands, and of course beautiful specialty produce that varies with the season. Getting there is a breeze with just a single 2 hour train ride using the Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Station to Iiyama Station. Be it during the green or winter season, there are lots to do in Iiyama, but here are our top 7 things to do:
Madarao Kogen Ski Resort is the place to go for deep, all-natural snow during the winter months, with activities from skiing, snowboarding and even snow rafting. But it’s not just during winter that Iiyama is filled with locals and tourists. In the summer you can also go grass skiing or mountain boarding
Iiyama is home to four onsen namely, Iiyama Yutaki Onsen, Togari Onsen, Madarao Kougen Onsen, and Iiyama Hokuryu Onsen. Enjoy the natural hot spring water that not only relaxes your feet and body after a long day, but accompanied with the magnificent views of the Chikuma River and mountains, can do wonders to your mind as well.
Uchiyama-gami is a handmade paper that local craftsmen create using a unique technique called yukizarashi (snow bleaching) that is durable and long-lasting. The handmade paper is light and airy, but also has insulating properties, that makes it suitable for shoji (Japanese sliding paper screens). Join a workshop to experience and learn the traditional ways of Japanese paper-making and you might be on your way to creating a masterpiece.
The Shinetsu Trail is one of the only “long trails” in Japan spanning 80 kilometers through the Sekida mountain range, which straddles the border between Nagano and Niigata prefectures. With Yama-no-ie (Madarao Kogen) or Mori-no-ie (Nabekura Kogen) as your home base, you can enjoy walking trips through the forest mountains that are known best for its beech trees (with a local guide, of course!).
If skiing down the slopes of the snowy mountain isn’t your cup of tea, Iiyama also offers other winter activities such as snowshoe tours where local guides can plan trips for snowshoe-ers of every level. Here, you can enjoy the panoramic views, and experience the thrills of backcountry winter.
Available from August through December, visitors can pick and try different varieties of grapes or apples depending on season. And since there is no time limit, visitors can also bring their own picnic lunches while trying different varieties of fruit and even bring home some of their favourites.
For just one month in between January and February, you’ll have the chance to experience a beautiful fairytale-like atmosphere that is perfect for family, friends, and couples alike. Enjoy a piping hot bowl of Noroshi Nabe (Hot Pot), served with locally grown Iiyama rice-balls inside their Snow Hut Village Restaurant that is opened for both lunch and dinner. But remember booking is essential and limited too!
For more information on the authentic lifestyle in rural Japan, visit https://authentic-visit.jp/ .